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(Split from Return to Clearwater)

Merivel neither said a word, nor made any sound. His eyes shifted between speakers, as if trying to catch every word said and every nuance of gesture given.

"Very well," said Lord Draupaud. "Thorne, perhaps you would take Nikomedes Sakellaris and see his needs immediately met, and accommodation found for him. Set Tomas, doubtless you will want to talk to your daughter. Maester Merivel, perhaps you and I might have a word about my lady's condition?"

Merivel nodded. "As my lord wishes." he replied quietly.

He waited until all the others withdrew and then said, "Have you examined her yet? Does it seem to you that her ... madness increases?"

"I have not examined her in depth since our return." Merivel said diplomatically. He paused. "The episode was disturbing, my lord. But I do not know if one can say that her condition has overall worsened."

He lifted his eyes to gaze upon Lord Drapanaud. "I can do a full examination of her, if you wish, my lord."

Lord Draupaud gave a curt nod. "I do so wish it. And I shall be present myself. Shall we go to the Lady's rooms now?"

"Merely allow me, my lord, to retrieve some items from my rooms, and I will be ready for such an examination." Merivel said. "I do not wish to be unprepared."

Merivel waited for the Lord to proceed him out, and to his room.

They met again at the entrance to the Lady's rooms. Septa Aloise was at the door, her face grave.

"She is quiet now, in her sleeping chamber," she said. "But I think it best that the Maester sees her alone. I fear the sight of you, my Lord, might disturb her."

Lord Draupaud gave a curt nod. "Very well."

He seated himself in the Lady's antechamber, while the Septa escorted Merivel into the sleeping chamber.

The Lady was lying on her bed. The room was fresh and clean and smelled of fragrant herbs and fresh rushes. Merivel saw that the Lady's eyes were half-closed, and she seemed more dazed than nature unaided would create.

He was carrying his typical traveling case, and a larger one as well, as well as a tome underneath his left arm. Provisioned with these, Merivel made his way to a chair and sat down beside the bed.

Merivel began with a simple examination of the dazed Lady Drapanaud, looking over her reactions, the temperature of her skin, the dilation of her eyes, the beating of her pulse.

Her physical health seemed good. However, her responses suggested that she had been heavily drugged with something - perhaps a tincture of poppy in strong wine. And Merivel might suspect that this was not for the first time, either.

The Septa was hovering anxiously.

"Septa." Merivel turned to look at the hovering figure behind him. "Who else, besides yourself, and myself, has been seeing to the care of the Lady as of late?"

The Septa shot a nervous glance at the door. "No-one else, my Lord. I have followed the instructions you gave me - and the treatment that the old Maester prescribed for my Lady ... "

"Indeed." Merivel considered this for a moment. "I think perhaps it would be wise to give me a copy of the instructions for this treatment that you are using." Merivel said. "Its possible that it could be, for her Lady's well being, be improved."

He looked back again at the drugged lady thoughtfully.

"There is a mixture," said the Septa. "No-0one here can make it. The Maester gave the receipt to my Lord and ... " She hesitated, unsure where her duty lay between her Lady and her Lord. Finally she said, "It is sent from Barrowton. On his Lordship's instructions."

"Barrowton." Merivel said, doubtfully. "I will have to ask his lordship at some point, then." Merivel continued. "I am not certain that the compound is completely efficacious."

"I have long felt that, Maester," she said, with the air of one confiding a great secret. "I have known my Lady since she was a little girl and ... but the old Maester insisted on it, and the Lord holds that it makes her better ... "

The nervousness was back in her voice as she referred to Lord Draupaud.

"Entanglements." Merivel said softly, mainly to himself. Instead of immediately responding to the Septa with words, he placed a companionable hand on her shoulder.

"I have learned in my studies, Aloise, that often it is those that are closest to something that have a poorer view of matters."

"The man who stands at the forest's edge can only see a few trees and cannot see the entire width and breath of the greenwood, but yet, a man and a woman standing off on a hill some distance back, can see it in full." Merivel explained.

"I think, perhaps, so it is with the Lord and his care for the Lady, and what I see of it. And you."

The Septa smiled at him nervously. "Then you will speak to the Lord about this?"

Merivel paused. "Carefully." Merivel finally said after a few moment's thought. "I do not wish to anger his Lordship, and this is a subject of which that would be easy to accomplish. On the other hand, he did summon me to examine the Lady. And so I have."

"I will examine her a little further, though, before making any final decision." Merivel finished, turning to look again to see if his conclusions were in any way incorrect.

But it seemed his conclusions were corrected. Physically, the Lady seemed in good health, although rather frail and malnourished. But in her drugged state, it was impossible to gauge her mental condition at all.

Merivel finally looked up to see if the Septa were still watching and hovering nearby.

"It puzzles me, it puzzles me, it does. Not the function of an instant, or a single page." Merivel said, more to himself than anything else.

"She needs better food and more of it, for one thing." Merivel said. "I still think I need to talk to his lordship."

"And I'll make her a good nourishing broth," said the Septa. "But she has so little appetite ... that is why I'm sure the medicine cannot be doing her good."

"The lack of an appetite is a concern." Merivel agreed. "And irregardless of how she feels, if she does not eat, she will not recover."

The Septa nodded her agreement.

"And will you speak to his Lordship?" she asked.

Merivel didn't hesitate. He looked squarely at the Septa.


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Page last modified on February 15, 2006, at 12:06 AM